Tips For Tax Planning As A First Time Business Owner

April 29, 2018

We all know that the overall goal of planning our taxes, is to pay the minimum amount that we are legally required to, but if you’re a business owner, be warned that any actions you take to reduce your taxes, will have effect upon the book value of your assets. It’s important that you think long and hard about what might be best for your business in the long term, instead of simply focusing upon reducing your taxes each year.

If you’re a first-time business owner struggling to plan your taxes, here are a few words of advice:

Always distinguish between your business and personal expenses:

The importance of keeping your business and personal expenses separate, cannot be stressed enough. Blurring the lines between the two can set of warning signals to the IRS. They need to see that your business is in fact, a business, and when your personal expenses are mixed in with your business expenses, it may appear to the IRS that you are conducting a hobby instead. This would go on to prevent you from being allowed to deduct your business expenses from your income.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, simply maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards and keep your records up to date.

Maintain your records:

Being able to justify your deductions can only happen if you maintain good and thorough documentation, and listed below are some of the common deductions available to small business owners:

  • Travel – automobile mileage must be supported with trip logs
  • Entertainment – diarise all entertainment expenses including such details as date, place, amount and the names and business relationships of those entertained
  • Meals – can only include those eaten while away from home and conducting business
  • Office at home – the deduction available will be dependant upon the allowable square footage as per the IRS’s requirements
  • Health Insurance – premiums paid for employees are deductible
  • Charitable Donations – if you have contributed assets to charity like equipment or software, then your deductions will be limited to the value of the asset on your books

Review your accounts receivable and inventory balances:

Be sure to review your accounts receivable for collectability, before you close your year end books; accounts that are likely to be uncollectible need to be written off as it will minimize your revenue and your tax liability. Obsolete or unusable inventory should be written down to scrap value to help lower revenues and your final tax bill.

Could you be owed tax credits?

There are several tax credits that you may be eligible for, such as ‘research and development credit’, ‘energy tax credit’, ‘disabled access credit work’, ‘work opportunity tax credit’ and ‘healthcare tax credits’.

Be prepared:

When you file your taxes for the first time as a business owner, you may make mistakes and will be able to note areas in which you lacked documentation or found a way in which to lower your taxes for the next year. Remember all of these and implement the necessary changes well in time for the next years’ tax season.

Whether you’re a seasoned tax planner or a first-timer with a business, accurate records and timeliness are essential, and if you struggle with this as many business owners do, it’s best to use the services of a tax consultant to be sure to stay on the right side of the IRS and get all the tax breaks that are available to you.

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